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6.2 Planning for a Shoot

In this lesson we will go over some pre-flight checklists (supplied in the course downloads) and how to properly plan for an upcoming shoot.

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6.2 Planning for a Shoot

In this lesson, we're gonna go over some pre-flight checklists and how you can properly plan for an upcoming shoot. It's a great idea to have multiple checklists you can run through before every UAV location shoot. I have six different checklists that I run through at different stages when planning and before flying in a scheduled shoot. As they say, the devil's in the details and you wanna be prepared for anything. All the checklists I go over in this lesson will be available as a PDF download, you can print out and use for your own UAV shoots. I'm also a strong believer in keeping a hard copy of all my checklists with me in my UAV case. That way whenever I need it, I have it and I can review it. I printed out six different checklists, I laminated them and placed them on a key ring, so I can easily flip through them. Three of our checklists are advanced preparation checklists and three are day of checklists. I'm gonna go ahead and review them in the order I normally do before a shoot. The first checklist is a location scout checklist. Before filling in a location either for yourself or for a client, it's a good idea to run through all of these procedures. First, confirm the address of the location with your client and go ahead and visit the location in advance if that's possible. I highly recommend doing this, but I understand that it's not always possible. Next, scout the location on Google Maps. So you can go ahead and get a birds eye view of the area and see what's surrounding it. Also check online for a VFR map of the area, that's a visual flight rules or check a UAV safety map like Mapbox and ensure you're not flying in a no-fly zone, and you're more than five miles away from any major airports. Next, go ahead and prevision the shots you're gonna need and the flight areas you're gonna have to be in, in order to get the shots. Identify safe areas to take off and land your UAV at and also look at areas that are best suited to maneuver to in case of a crash landing. Also, you're gonna wanna gain permissions for the property if the client isn't the property owner. Check the weather forecast and see what the weather outlook is for the day of the scheduled shoot. Next is the mission planning checklist. In this checklist, you are gonna review your shoot goals and how you are gonna accomplish them. The first step is scenario or the big picture of what you're wanting to accomplish. So just client goals, the weather for the shoot and the type of terrain that's gonna be shot. The next step is the mission where there's specific goals that you wanna accomplish in the shoot. This is something you can come back to and review should the client have a suggestion or a a change on the day of shooting. The next step is the execution. How are you gonna get the aerial shots? Reviewing your flight paths, shot list, the timing and the safety procedures. Next is Murphy's Law. So think about what can happen at the shoot and what you should be prepared for. Next are the logistics of the shoot, being prepared with proper clothes, food, equipment and in case of emergency. Finally is the command. Reviewing your communication methods when you'll be at the location as well as your role during the shoot, such as being the director, the cinematographer or just the pilot. The next is a drone pack checklist, which is typically gonna take place in the day or night before an actual shoot. The first is the number of UAVs you're gonna be taking with you. Step two is having the UAV batteries charged and packed. Step three is the Controller Batteries are charged and packed. Step four, the controller screens and controllers are packed. Step five, Mobile Devices are charged and packed. Next, check your drone for software updates. Have your camera batteries charged and packed? Electronic cables packed, props and fasteners packed. Have your memory cards formatted and go ahead and pack them. Next to a visual drone inspection, then you go ahead and seal up your drone cases. Next, have your back up items packed such as memory cards or anything else you need to back up? Also, pack an emergency kit. And finally, pack some eye protection. Now let's talk about the three-day of checklist, it should be reviewed the day of an aerial shoot. The first is the morning checklist. These are things that need to be examined early on the day of a plane shoot to ensure that no surprises arise or if the shoot needs to be rescheduled due to problems. First, check the weather forecast for the day, look at the wind speed, the percentage chance of rain. Also, go ahead and check the K index for the day to ensure there is not gonna be any geomagnetic storms occurring. Next, confirm the shoot is still on with the client. Have print out aerial maps of the shoot location ready. Ensure the drones are packed and loaded into the proper vehicle. Next, ensure any other production gear that you're gonna need is packed and also loaded in the proper vehicle. Have your personal items packed and loaded. Have print out directions to the location you're gonna be shooting at ready. You don't just rely on your built-in phone GPS, because you never know you might not have service at that remote location. Finally, make sure your vehicle is trip ready. The next checklist is the pre-flight checklist, which should be reviewed with your drone at the location right before you're about to take flight. First is the latest firmware up to date. Next, do a visual inspection of your drone. Next, install the battery and make sure that it's fully charged, then install the props and lock them into place. Next, check and see if you need a ND Filter or any other filter. Next, insert your memory card into the camera and make sure it's formatted. Next, install any camera batteries if your drone requires them. Next, adjust the brightness on your controller screen, monitor or tablet. Next, are you gonna be standing in the shade? Or do you need a monitor hood for your controller? Next, turn the transmitter on, then turn on the UAV. Next, make sure you have a GPS lock achieved and then do a compass calibration. Next, suggest you minimum height. Next, suggest you return the home minimum height. Next, select your transmission frequency and data rate. The next step is to make sure your camera picture profile is selected. Next, ensure the takeoff location is safe and clear of problems. Make sure your emergency locations for landing or malfunction are identified and are clear of people. Next, if you use any protective eye wear, go ahead and put that on. Make sure the immediate flight area is clear of people. And finally, now it's time to take off. The final checklist is for quick reference of safety procedures in case of an accident. The first from this list is for a UAV fly away. In which case, you lose contact or signal with your UAV and it begins to drift away on its own. Before anything, don't panic in these situations. The first step is to push the return to Home button if you have one. Next, go ahead and warn people that are in the immediate surrounding area. Identify the last known direction of your drone. Next, identify the last distance reading on your controller from your current location. Next, identify and acknowledge the remaining battery life you had on your drone and estimate how much more time it's gonna be in the air. Identify the last GPS location where the last signal was received from your drone, if you have map mode or if you have a printout map of the area. Next, you're gonna have to determine if you wanna go ahead and pursue your drone in a vehicle or if you just wanna stay at your current location. Finally, hunt for your drone with an estimated crash radius if you suspect your drone has crashed. Next on the safety procedures checklist are things to do in the event of immediate or expected UAV malfunction and crash. The first thing you do is quickly verbally warn everyone in the area there's going to be an eminent crash about to occur. Next, turn off your transmitter. If your drone does crash to the ground, there's a good chance it's still gonna be active, so make sure you stand back until it becomes inactive. Next, go ahead and take photos of the immediate damage. Next, assess the damage that has been done to your UAV. Also, assess any property damage if anything like that has occurred in a crash. Next, contact your insurance or your UAV warranty provider. Again, all of these checklist are available as a PDF download for you to print out and use for your UAV shoots. In the next lesson, we're gonna examine some common UAV flight rules and the FAA regulations.

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